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Chapter 24

CHAPTER XXIV [I Protect the Empress of Germany]

That was a thoroughly satisfactory walk--and the only one we were ever
to have which was all the way downhill. We took the train next morning
and returned to Baden-Baden through fearful fogs of dust. Every seat was
crowded, too; for it was Sunday, and consequently everybody was taking
a "pleasure" excursion. Hot! the sky was an oven--and a sound one,
too, with no cracks in it to let in any air. An odd time for a pleasure
excursion, certainly!

Sunday is the great day on the continent--the free day, the happy day.
One can break the Sabbath in a hundred ways without committing any sin.

We do not work on Sunday, because the commandment forbids it; the
Germans do not work on Sunday, because the commandment forbids it. We
rest on Sunday, because the commandment requires it; the Germans rest on
Sunday because the commandment requires it. But in the definition of
the word "rest" lies all the difference. With us, its Sunday meaning
is, stay in the house and keep still; with the Germans its Sunday and
week-day meanings seem to be the same--rest the TIRED PART, and never
mind the other parts of the frame; rest the tired part, and use the
means best calculated to rest that particular part. Thus: If one's
duties have kept him in the house all the week, it will rest him to
be out on Sunday; if his duties have required him to read weighty and
serious matter all the week, it will rest him to read light matter on
Sunday; if his occupation has busied him with death and funerals all the
week, it will rest him to go to the theater Sunday night and put in two
or three hours laughing at a comedy; if he is tired with digging ditches
or felling trees all the week, it will rest him to lie quiet in the
house on Sunday; if the hand, the arm, the brain, the tongue, or any
other member, is fatigued with inanition, it is not to be rested by
added a day's inanition; but if a member is fatigued with exertion,
inanition is the right rest for it. Such is the way in which the Germans
seem to define the word "rest"; that is to say, they rest a member by
recreating, recuperating, restore its forces. But our definition is less
broad. We all rest alike on Sunday--by secluding ourselves and keeping
still, whether that is the surest way to rest the most of us or not.
The Germans make the actors, the preachers, etc., work on Sunday. We
encourage the preachers, the editors, the printers, etc., to work on
Sunday, and imagine that none of the sin of it falls upon us; but I do
not know how we are going to get around the fact that if it is wrong for
the printer to work at his trade on Sunday it must be equally wrong for
the preacher to work at his, since the commandment has made no exception
in his favor. We buy Monday morning's paper and read it, and thus
encourage Sunday printing. But I shall never do it again.

The Germans remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy, by abstaining
from work, as commanded; we keep it holy by abstaining from work, as
commanded, and by also abstaining from play, which is not commanded.
Perhaps we constructively BREAK the command to rest, because the resting
we do is in most cases only a name, and not a fact.

These reasonings have sufficed, in a measure, to mend the rent in my
conscience which I made by traveling to Baden-Baden that Sunday. We
arrived in time to furbish up and get to the English church before
services began. We arrived in considerable style, too, for the landlord
had ordered the first carriage that could be found, since there was no
time to lose, and our coachman was so splendidly liveried that we were
probably mistaken for a brace of stray dukes; why else were we honored
with a pew all to ourselves, away up among the very elect at the left of
the chancel? That was my first thought. In the pew directly in front of
us sat an elderly lady, plainly and cheaply dressed; at her side sat
a young lady with a very sweet face, and she also was quite simply
dressed; but around us and about us were clothes and jewels which it
would do anybody's heart good to worship in.

I thought it was pretty manifest that the elderly lady was embarrassed
at finding herself in such a conspicuous place arrayed in such cheap
apparel; I began to feel sorry for her and troubled about her. She
tried to seem very busy with her prayer-book and her responses, and
unconscious that she was out of place, but I said to myself, "She is
not succeeding--there is a distressed tremulousness in her voice which
betrays increasing embarrassment." Presently the Savior's name was
mentioned, and in her flurry she lost her head completely, and rose and
courtesied, instead of making a slight nod as everybody else did. The
sympathetic blood surged to my temples and I turned and gave those fine
birds what I intended to be a beseeching look, but my feelings got the
better of me and changed it into a look which said, "If any of you pets
of fortune laugh at this poor soul, you will deserve to be flayed for
it." Things went from bad to worse, and I shortly found myself mentally
taking the unfriended lady under my protection. My mind was wholly upon
her. I forgot all about the sermon. Her embarrassment took stronger
and stronger hold upon her; she got to snapping the lid of her
smelling-bottle--it made a loud, sharp sound, but in her trouble she
snapped and snapped away, unconscious of what she was doing. The last
extremity was reached when the collection-plate began its rounds; the
moderate people threw in pennies, the nobles and the rich contributed
silver, but she laid a twenty-mark gold piece upon the book-rest before
her with a sounding slap! I said to myself, "She has parted with all her
little hoard to buy the consideration of these unpitying people--it is a
sorrowful spectacle." I did not venture to look around this time; but
as the service closed, I said to myself, "Let them laugh, it is their
opportunity; but at the door of this church they shall see her step into
our fine carriage with us, and our gaudy coachman shall drive her home."

Then she rose--and all the congregation stood while she walked down the
aisle. She was the Empress of Germany!

No--she had not been so much embarrassed as I had supposed. My
imagination had got started on the wrong scent, and that is always
hopeless; one is sure, then, to go straight on misinterpreting
everything, clear through to the end. The young lady with her imperial
Majesty was a maid of honor--and I had been taking her for one of her
boarders, all the time.

This is the only time I have ever had an Empress under my personal
protection; and considering my inexperience, I wonder I got through
with it so well. I should have been a little embarrassed myself if I had
known earlier what sort of a contract I had on my hands.

We found that the Empress had been in Baden-Baden several days. It is
said that she never attends any but the English form of church service.

I lay abed and read and rested from my journey's fatigues the remainder
of that Sunday, but I sent my agent to represent me at the afternoon
service, for I never allow anything to interfere with my habit of
attending church twice every Sunday.

There was a vast crowd in the public grounds that night to hear the band
play the "Fremersberg." This piece tells one of the old legends of the
region; how a great noble of the Middle Ages got lost in the mountains,
and wandered about with his dogs in a violent storm, until at last
the faint tones of a monastery bell, calling the monks to a midnight
service, caught his ear, and he followed the direction the sounds came
from and was saved. A beautiful air ran through the music, without
ceasing, sometimes loud and strong, sometimes so soft that it could
hardly be distinguished--but it was always there; it swung grandly along
through the shrill whistling of the storm-wind, the rattling patter of
the rain, and the boom and crash of the thunder; it wound soft and low
through the lesser sounds, the distant ones, such as the throbbing
of the convent bell, the melodious winding of the hunter's horn, the
distressed bayings of his dogs, and the solemn chanting of the monks;
it rose again, with a jubilant ring, and mingled itself with the country
songs and dances of the peasants assembled in the convent hall to
cheer up the rescued huntsman while he ate his supper. The instruments
imitated all these sounds with a marvelous exactness. More than one man
started to raise his umbrella when the storm burst forth and the sheets
of mimic rain came driving by; it was hardly possible to keep from
putting your hand to your hat when the fierce wind began to rage and
shriek; and it was NOT possible to refrain from starting when those
sudden and charmingly real thunder-crashes were let loose.

I suppose the "Fremersberg" is a very low-grade music; I know, indeed,
that it MUST be low-grade music, because it delighted me, warmed me,
moved me, stirred me, uplifted me, enraptured me, that I was full of
cry all the time, and mad with enthusiasm. My soul had never had such a
scouring out since I was born. The solemn and majestic chanting of the
monks was not done by instruments, but by men's voices; and it rose
and fell, and rose again in that rich confusion of warring sounds, and
pulsing bells, and the stately swing of that ever-present enchanting
air, and it seemed to me that nothing but the very lowest of low-grade
music COULD be so divinely beautiful. The great crowd which the
"Fremersberg" had called out was another evidence that it was low-grade
music; for only the few are educated up to a point where high-grade
music gives pleasure. I have never heard enough classic music to be able
to enjoy it. I dislike the opera because I want to love it and can't.

I suppose there are two kinds of music--one kind which one feels, just
as an oyster might, and another sort which requires a higher faculty,
a faculty which must be assisted and developed by teaching. Yet if base
music gives certain of us wings, why should we want any other? But we
do. We want it because the higher and better like it. We want it without
giving it the necessary time and trouble; so we climb into that upper
tier, that dress-circle, by a lie; we PRETEND we like it. I know several
of that sort of people--and I propose to be one of them myself when I
get home with my fine European education.

And then there is painting. What a red rag is to a bull, Turner's "Slave
Ship" was to me, before I studied art. Mr. Ruskin is educated in art
up to a point where that picture throws him into as mad an ecstasy of
pleasure as it used to throw me into one of rage, last year, when I was
ignorant. His cultivation enables him--and me, now--to see water in that
glaring yellow mud, and natural effects in those lurid explosions
of mixed smoke and flame, and crimson sunset glories; it reconciles
him--and me, now--to the floating of iron cable-chains and other
unfloatable things; it reconciles us to fishes swimming around on top
of the mud--I mean the water. The most of the picture is a manifest
impossibility--that is to say, a lie; and only rigid cultivation can
enable a man to find truth in a lie. But it enabled Mr. Ruskin to do
it, and it has enabled me to do it, and I am thankful for it. A Boston
newspaper reporter went and took a look at the Slave Ship floundering
about in that fierce conflagration of reds and yellows, and said it
reminded him of a tortoise-shell cat having a fit in a platter
of tomatoes. In my then uneducated state, that went home to my
non-cultivation, and I thought here is a man with an unobstructed eye.
Mr. Ruskin would have said: This person is an ass. That is what I would
say, now. [1]

1. Months after this was written, I happened into the National
Gallery in London, and soon became so fascinated with the
Turner pictures that I could hardly get away from the place.
I went there often, afterward, meaning to see the rest
of the gallery, but the Turner spell was too strong;
it could not be shaken off. However, the Turners
which attracted me most did not remind me of the Slave Ship.

However, our business in Baden-Baden this time, was to join our courier.
I had thought it best to hire one, as we should be in Italy, by and by,
and we did not know the language. Neither did he. We found him at the
hotel, ready to take charge of us. I asked him if he was "all fixed." He
said he was. That was very true. He had a trunk, two small satchels,
and an umbrella. I was to pay him fifty-five dollars a month and railway
fares. On the continent the railway fare on a trunk is about the same
it is on a man. Couriers do not have to pay any board and lodging. This
seems a great saving to the tourist--at first. It does not occur to the
tourist that SOMEBODY pays that man's board and lodging. It occurs to
him by and by, however, in one of his lucid moments.

Mark Twain